Executive Director

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Job location
314 E. Highland Mall Blvd
Suite 108
Austin, TX 78752
United States
Organization information
Organization name: 
Texas Fair Defense Project
Street address: 
314 E. Highland Mall Blvd, Suite 108
Job type: 
Legal - Civil
Position Description: 

The Texas Fair Defense Project (TFDP) seeks a dynamic and entrepreneurial executive director to provide strategic leadership for the organization.

TFDP is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas that works to improve the fairness of Texas’s criminal courts and ensure that all Texans have access to justice.

TFDP’s mission is to fight for a criminal justice system that respects the rights of low-income Texans. We envision a new system of justice that is fair, compassionate, and respectful. Through impact litigation, legislative advocacy, and education, we are working to end counterproductive, costly, and unconstitutional practices like jail time for traffic tickets and our broken money-bail system.

This position is a remarkable opportunity for an experienced, creative leader to build on TFDP’s strengths and successes to increase our impact. For more than 13 years, TFDP has worked in the courts, the Texas Legislature, and local jurisdictions to improve procedural justice in the state’s criminal courts, as well as justice system outcomes for poor people accused of criminal offenses.

TFDP challenges constitutional violations in state criminal and civil courts. The organization has won victories for indigent criminal defendants before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. TFDP collaborates with advocates across Texas, as well as national advocates, working to reform debtor’s prison and money bail practices. TFDP also collaborates with state agencies to develop administrative rules and model policies that improve justice system performance and fairness, collaborates with local jurisdictions to develop criminal justice programs that decrease pretrial detention, increase the independence of the defense function, and improve the quality of representation provided to poor people accused of crimes, and supports low-income communities in their advocacy for equal justice.

The Executive Director will provide strategic leadership for our programs and secure resources to strengthen our work. The Executive Director will be responsible for the overall management and operations of the organization, and work closely with TFDP’s Board of Directors and staff.

Key responsibilities include:

• Lead TFDP’s successful programs to increase access to justice and improve the fairness of the criminal justice system, develop creative advocacy strategies to advance our mission, and coordinate organizational advocacy efforts across programs and departments.
• Strengthen relationships with current institutional and individual donors, and expand TFDP’s base of financial support in order to provide a solid foundation for our programs.
• Collaborate with the Board of Directors and staff to develop and support new programs and engage in long-term planning for the organization.
• Set annual organizational goals and monitor performance toward achieving goals, while enhancing opportunities for personal and professional leadership development.
• Develop a strategy to increase the visibility and impact of our work, and be a compelling spokesperson for the organization in public forums, meetings, and the media.
• Develop and manage a diverse set of relationships, including with the Board of Directors, staff, funders, the media, the courts, government agencies, elected and other state and local officials, pro bono partners, community and advocacy organizations, and client communities.
• Ensure compliance with grant agreements, contracts, and other ethical and legal requirements.


The ideal candidate will have a deep passion for TFDP’s mission; a demonstrated commitment to social justice and civil rights; a track record of fruitful fundraising from institutional and individual supporters; experience with successful advocacy campaigns, program development, and project management; vision and creativity in pursuing new opportunities for our organization; the ability to sustain and develop a broad set of relationships; strong leadership skills and the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues and external partners; energy and enthusiasm; business acumen; and success in either complex civil rights litigation or public policy work. While the ideal candidate does not have to be an attorney, the position requires the ability to understand and make decisions about TFDP’s active and potential litigation.

The preferred candidate will demonstrate at least five years of relevant work experience, as well as a proven track record of fundraising success. A license to practice law in Texas is a plus but is not required.

To apply: 

Please send a detailed cover letter, resume, writing sample (5-10 pages preferred), and a list of three references to [email protected] with the subject line
“Executive Director Position.” Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Equal Opportunity Employer
Salary range: 
Salary is commensurate with experience and a benefits package is provided.